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Preseason Power Rankings No. 16: San Diego Chargers

Philip Rivers AP

The 2013 Chargers earned the AFC’s final wild card berth on the final day of the regular season, and were they ever the definition of a wild card.

Of the Chargers’ seven losses a season ago, six were by one score or less. They were 5-2 against playoff clubs but a mere 4-5 against also-rans, including defeats to Oakland, Washington and Houston.

But in the end, San Diego got hot at the right time, winning four in a row to end the regular season. Then, in the postseason, the Chargers proved they belonged, upsetting the favored Bengals in Cincinnati and putting up a fight in a loss at Denver in the divisional round.

In all, it was a successful first season for Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, who oversaw a club that always seemed to give itself a chance to win. And was it ever a splendid return to top form for quarterback Philip Rivers, who again looked like one of the best in his profession.

In some ways, the Chargers might have been ahead of schedule a season ago. The question is, what growth are they capable of this time around?

Strengths.

The Chargers’ offense is formidable. Rivers was fun to watch in 2013, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and ranking near the top of the NFL in passing yards gained per attempt (8.2). He was sacked 19 fewer times in 2013 than in the previous campaign (30 vs. 49), which speaks well of McCoy’s scheme and the work of the offensive line, which stepped up its play.

No team was better on third downs than the Chargers, and no quarterback may have been better than Rivers in such situations. Per STATS LLC, Rivers converted first downs on a league-high 49.4 percent of his passing attempts (77-of-156).

Rivers has multiple capable targets. Second-year wide receiver Keenan Allen starred as a rookie, hauling in 71 passes for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. Tight end Antonio Gates (77 catches, 872 yards, four TDs) is a key security blanket for Rivers, as is tailback Danny Woodhead (76 catches, 605 yards, six TDs). Wide receivers Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal and tight end Ladarius Green will also get their shots to contribute, too.

The Chargers’ running game is no slouch, either. Lead back Ryan Mathews racked up 1,255 yards a season ago in a career-best campaign. Ex-Colt Donald Brown gives San Diego another starter-caliber rusher behind Mathews. In addition to his pass catching, Woodhead can chip in a few carries per game.

Finally, the Chargers’ defense appears stronger than a season ago. Free safety Eric Weedle is a standout, while ex-Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers could be just what the secondary needs. Defensive end Corey Liguet (12.5 combined sacks in the last two seasons), inside linebacker Donald Butler and outside linebacker Melvin Ingram are nice defensive foundation pieces for now and the future.

Weaknesses.

The Chargers allowed more yards per rush and per pass than any other AFC a team a season ago. Even if San Diego’s defense is better — and it should be, with Flowers arriving and Ingram and Dwight Freeney returning from injury-shortened campaigns — this isn’t a shutdown group by any stretch.

The play of the outside linebackers will be key for the Chargers. Liguet (5.5 sacks) paced the club in sacks in 2013, with fellow end Kendall Reyes finishing second with five sacks. For a club employing a 3-4 base scheme like San Diego, the outside ‘backers must generate some pressure off the edges.

On offense, the play of the Chargers’ line still bears some monitoring, even after the improvements made a season ago.

Changes.

The Chargers’ most important changes could come in the secondary, where Flowers and first-round pick Jason Verrett should bolster the cornerback corps. Those additions came after the club cut ties with corner Derek Cox, who struggled in his lone season in San Diego.

The Chargers have a new offensive coordinator, with Frank Reich replacing Ken Whisenhunt, who became the Titans’ head coach. San Diego has also made a change at backup quarterback, with Kellen Clemens (ex-St. Louis) signing on to replace Charlie Whitehurst, who followed Whisenhunt to Tennessee.

The Chargers’ RB depth chart is a little more crowded with the addition of Donald Brown, who led the Colts in rushing a season ago. He effectively replaces Ronnie Brown as one of the club’s top three backs.

Camp battles.

Several positions bear watching:

—   Right guard: Incumbent Jeromey Clary comes off shoulder and hip surgery; can third-round pick Chris Watt push him for the job?

—   Cornerback: Flowers, Verrett and holdovers Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall are the top four options at the position. Flowers seems likely to garner a major role, but how quickly will Verrett adjust to the NFL game?

—   Running back: How will the reps be split between Mathews, Woodhead and Brown?

—   Nose tackle: Sean Lissemore, Ryan Carrethers and Kwame Geathers are among the options. Cam Thomas, one of the regulars at the position a season ago, signed with Pittsburgh.

—   Outside linebacker: There could be some healthy competition here, with Ingram, Freeney, Larry English, Jarret Johnson, Thomas Keiser and rookie Jeremiah Attaochu all in the mix for work.

Prospects.

The Chargers’ schedule is both inviting and challenging, with the biggest tests right out of the gate and down the stretch.

The Chargers begin with a pair of challenging out-of-conference games at Arizona and vs. Seattle. A 0-2 start is quite possible, given the degree of difficulty of those matchups.

Then comes a five-game run that could ultimately make or break the Chargers’ season. The next five opponents — the Bills (away), Jets (home), Jaguars (home), Raiders (away) and Chiefs (home) — are all conference opponents ranked behind San Diego in PFT’s preseason power rankings. Here’s a chance for the Chargers to stack up some important AFC wins — and they must do so.

Similarly, the Chargers need to make hay in the early part of November. They begin the month at Miami (Nov. 2), then take their bye. Then comes home games vs. Oakland (Nov. 16) and St. Louis (Nov. 23). The Chargers may have to sweep this three-game stretch, considering their next five games — their final of the campaign — are at Baltimore, home vs. New England, home vs. Denver, at San Francisco and at Kansas City.

In all, the schedule seems a perfect test for the Chargers. If their offense remains potent and efficient, and if their defense has improved, the Chargers could get rolling, and they could prove a challenging matchup for anyone, even those strong outfits they face in the final weeks.

The Chargers didn’t blink in tough situations a season ago, which makes them all the more intriguing in 2014. But can they move forward? It probably comes down to whether they can get a few more stops on “D.” They are going to score their share of points.

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Panthers get Kelvin Benjamin back on the field after torn ACL

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 10:   Kelvin Benjamin #13 of the Carolina Panthers in action against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game at CenturyLink Field on January 10, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers offense was already pretty good last year, thanks to an MVP season from quarterback Cam Newton.

It might be even better today.

Via the team’s official website, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was back on the field Thursday for OTAs, his first on-field work since tearing his ACL in training camp last year.

Benjamin was a force his rookie year, catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns.

But even though they went 15-1 and made it to the Super Bowl, their lack of a guy who could get open and catch it if he did was exposed by the Broncos in that final game.

Getting Benjamin back, along with the development of Devin Funchess, gives the Panthers the chance to improve significantly in the passing game.

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After Baylor firing, Art Briles may look to the NFL

Art Briles AP

Baylor is firing head football coach Art Briles amid multiple accusations of sexual assault against football players, a surprising development for a coach who has turned a historically weak program into a national powerhouse.

The allegations about the Baylor football program are so serious that it may be difficult for any college to justify hiring Briles. But Briles is widely regarded as one of the most innovative minds in the game of football, and so it would not be at all surprising to see some NFL team hire him.

Briles’ offense was once viewed as gimmicky and unsuited to the NFL. But it has worked long enough at the college level, and produced enough NFL players, that there may now be NFL teams that would look to add Briles as an assistant coach or offensive consultant.

The 60-year-old Briles has no NFL experience, and the results of the ongoing investigation at Baylor could make him too toxic for the NFL. But the reality is that NFL teams look for any edge they can get. If some team thinks Briles can improve its offense, Briles will have a job in the NFL.

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Kawann Short “not rushing” things on contract front

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17:   Kawann Short #99 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a sack against the Seattle Seahawks in the 1st quarter during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Panthers rescinded the franchise tag they gave cornerback Josh Norman, there was immediate discussion about the Panthers using some of the money earmarked for Norman toward an extension for defensive tackle Kawann Short.

Short is entering the final year of his rookie contract and a report earlier this month had discussions about that new deal getting underway. Short said this week that his contractual situation isn’t his chief concern at this point in the calendar.

“If it happens, it happens, but we haven’t focused on that,” Short said, via the team’s website. “I’ve still got a lot I need to do. I’ve put myself in the position, but at the same time, I’m not where I want to be. We’re not rushing the issue.”

Outside of protection against a serious injury, there’s not much reason for Short to race into a long-term deal at the moment. The Panthers have the franchise tag in their pocket in the event a deal can’t be struck and there will be no shortage of suitors for his services should Carolina opt against using the tag.

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Vikings defensive tackle B.J. Dubose tears ACL in OTA

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 22: (L-R) B.J. Dubose #90, Audie Cole #57 and Danielle Hunter #99 of the Minnesota Vikings line up against the Oakland Raiders during the preseason game on August 22, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Raiders 20-12. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

On-field practices during OTAs are supposed to be non-contact, but they’re never non-risk.

According to Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Vikings defensive tackle B.J. Dubose suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during Wednesday’s workout, and is expected to miss the entire season.

The injury happened during an 11-on-11 drill.

A sixth-round pick last year from Louisville, he spent most of last year on the practice squad, but was promoted to the 53-man roster prior to the playoff loss to Seattle.

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Report: Abdullah recovering from surgery on torn labrum

New York Jets v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Lions running back Ameer Abdullah had shoulder surgery in January and could be out until training camp, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

The report said Dr. James Andrews repaired a torn labrum that Adbullah had suffered during a mid-December game. The report also said Abdullah is ahead of schedule in his rehab but the team intends to proceed with caution through the rest of the spring.

Abdullah figures as the starting running back this season for the Lions. He led the team with 597 rushing yards last year as a rookie and also led the NFL in kick return yardage with 1,077.

A second-round pick last spring, he played in all 16 games, carried 143 times and caught 25 passes.

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Dolphins closing in on new stadium naming-rights deal

82887214-e1461790904759 Getty Images

The place where the Miami NFL franchise plays has been known by many names. From Dolphins Stadium to Joe Robbie Stadium to Pro Player Stadium to Pro Player Park to Dolphin Stadium to Land Shark Stadium to Sun Life Stadium to a stadium that currently has no naming-rights partner, the venue has carried plenty of labels since it opened in 1987.

Soon, it could have another new name.

During a Wednesday visit to PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald said that Hard Rock International may buy the rights.

Later in the same show, Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel offered this response to a question on the status of the naming rights: “I can’t disclose who the companies are [negotiating], but I can tell you we’re in sort of what I call late-stage discussions with a few different companies. I’m optimistic that we’ve got to get one into the end zone here, but I think we’re in the red zone and pushing towards the goal line. So hopefully we get one done soon and [I’m] excited about the potential of getting a new name on it.”

Getting a Super Bowl necessarily makes the naming rights more valuable to any company that thinks there’s value in having its name attached to a stadium. Fortunately for major sports teams throughout the world, more than enough corporations see the value treating a place where football is played like a giant billboard.

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Kirk Cousins knew Josh Norman had plenty of talent four years ago

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24:  Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

As Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins waits for a big-money, long-term deal, he’s getting a close look at a guy to whom the organization recently gave a big-money, long-term deal. But it’s not the first time Cousins has witnessed the work of cornerback Josh Norman — apart from last season’s loss to Carolina.

“I was able to train in the same place as him before the draft back in the spring of 2012,” Cousins told reporters on Wednesday regarding Norman. “We would go out and do one-on-ones with several really good receivers who are higher NFL draft picks and had great careers. He would lock a lot of them up in one-on-ones back then. So you could see his ability four years ago, and obviously he’s proven that through his time with the Panthers and hopefully continues that with us. But, it’s exciting to have a player of that caliber to go against every day.”

Every day gets Cousins and the team closer to July 15, the deadline for signing him to a long-term contract. Cousins had nothing new to say about the status of negotiations.

“I think everything I could possibly say on the matter of the contract has already been said,” Cousins said. “I’m positive, very confident, that when or if something gets done you guys will be notified. . . . So stay tuned, but I really don’t have anything to add to what’s already been said.”

All that needs to be said is that Cousins has a $19.95 million guaranteed payday in hand for 2016. The question becomes whether the team will offer the kind of long-term deal will get him to trade in both the $19.95 million for 2016 plus either a 20-percent raise in 2017 or a shot at the open market.

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Bucs add two defensive backs

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 7: Javien Elliott #14 of the Florida State Seminoles breaks up a pass intended for Hunter Renfrow #13 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers Thursday announced the signings of cornerback Javien Elliott and safety Kimario McFadden.

Elliott is an undrafted rookie out of Florida State. He’s a former walk-on who became a productive player at Florida State last season and previously had tried out for the Steelers as part of their rookie minicamp earlier this month.

McFadden has been on and off the Buccaneers roster. He played in three games last season, recording two special teams tackles. McFadden, 25, broke into the league as an undrafted rookie with the Falcons in 2014.

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Washington will hold Junior Galette back until training camp

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 21:  Washington Redskins Junior Galette attends The Stronach Group Owner's Chalet at 141st The Preakness at Pimlico Race Course on May 21, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Stronach Group) Getty Images

Washington is encouraged by the progress Junior Galette has shown in his comeback from a torn Achilles, but they’re not going to let him push it.

According to Mike Jones of the Washington Post, the recovering pass-rusher won’t practice until training camp in late July.

While the rest of his teammates were going through OTAs, Galette was working on the side with trainers. Coach Jay Gruden said Galette probably could have practiced, but they want to make sure to give him time to strengthen his leg instead.

“So anxious,” Gruden said of Galette. “He’s like a kid at Christmas, sitting up waiting for Santa Claus and he hasn’t come yet.”

Galette declared himself “85, 90 percent,” and said he understood erring on the side of caution, after missing last season.

“But we’re just being extra careful right now and taking our time instead of rushing into OTAs,” he said. “I could play right now; we’re just being careful. I don’t feel like it’s to my advantage to come out here and really rush and have those sore days.

“I’m as excited as I’ve ever been, probably as excited as I was in 2010 as an undrafted rookie. I’m very excited.”

If Galette can return to form, he adds a dangerous pass-rusher to a defense that also added free agent cornerback Josh Norman this offseason, providing a potentially big boost.

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Mario Williams happy to “cut it loose” in Miami

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 30:   Brian Hoyer #6 of the Cleveland Browns is hit after throwing the ball by Mario Williams #94 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 30, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Defensive end Mario Williams‘ 2015 season with the Bills was marked by his complaints about what the team was asking him to do on defense and complaints from others that Williams wasn’t giving the team everything he had.

That unhappy mix and Williams’ big cap number led the Bills to part ways with Williams once the season came to an end. Williams landed with the Dolphins as a free agent and he’s singing a different tune when it comes to fitting into a defense than he was last season.

“At the end of the day, whatever scheme that defensive coordinators have or whatnot, you have to take it and adjust to it and run with it,” Williams said, via ESPN.com. “It could be anything. It varies not just [for] myself, but my teammates. They’ve been other places and experienced other things.”

The reason behind Williams’ change of heart isn’t difficult to figure out. The Dolphins want Williams to rush the passer first and foremost, which eliminates his biggest bone of contention from last year.

“I think the biggest focal point and exciting for us is knowing that [we can] cut it loose,” Williams said. “It’s almost like saying, ‘Go! Every time, just go. We’re going to put you in the best position for you to get after it and everything else is going to trickle downhill from there.'”

It’s not the first time we’ve heard this kind of positivity from Williams about his role since he joined the Dolphins. That probably won’t make for many smiles in Buffalo, but it could be the foundation for a rebound from Williams in Miami.

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NFL won’t disclose details of Super Bowl bids

19369539-money-bag-with-stacks-of-cash Getty Images

Earlier this week, the NFL parlayed the interest of five cities into three Super Bowls via a process that, as a practical matter, results in the submission of competitive bids. Even with the loose, wink-nod quid pro quo that calls for a city with a new stadium to be included in the currently non-rotating Super Bowl rotation, cities need to bring something more to the table.

Case in point: The “wish list” for Super Bowl LII to be played at the soon-to-be christened venue in Minneapolis. Building the stadium should have been enough to get the game. As uncovered by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in December 2014, however, the NFL wanted a lot more than that. From free police escorts for team owners to 35,000 free parking spaces to presidential suites at no cost in high-end hotels, the league wasn’t bashful about asking for all sorts of stuff in exchange for the privilege of hosting the league’s premier annual event.

So what similar inducements were made by the cities vying for the trifecta of Super Bowls awarded on Tuesday via the submission of formal bids?

“We do not make them public,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email.

There’s a reason for that. Apparently, the bids include all sorts of extra stuff that could embarrass the league at best and invite scrutiny from relevant outside governmental agencies at worst. For example, one source with knowledge of the bids tells PFT that the failed New Orleans proposal for Super Bowl LIII included a $50,000 per-team credit for ground transportation, parties, and related expenses during Super Bowl week. Given that most teams inevitably will be spending that kind of cash during a week in New Orleans prior to the Super Bowl, it’s essentially a $50,000 gift given to each and every franchise — a total of $1.6 million in free money offered to the league by the New Orleans host committee for giving the city the Super Bowl.

Although every Super Bowl host committee relies on privately-raised funds to offset the costs for staging the games (I wonder whether the folks who donate know exactly how the money is being used), there’s a fine line between reimbursing costs and stuffing the already deep pockets of the league’s owners with more cold, hard cash. For that reason, it would be interesting to see each of the bids that were submitted in connection with Super Bowl LIII, LIV, and LV.

If anyone who has them wants to pass them along with a clear and unwavering commitment of anonymity and full protection, we’re easy to find.

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Jeremy Langford wants to be the leader of the Bears backfield

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 15: Jeremy Langford #33 of the Chicago Bears carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on November 15, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) Getty Images

Running back Jeremy Langford had more than 800 yards of total offense in 2015 and joined Gale Sayers and Walter Payton as the only Bears rookies since 1960 to run for touchdowns in four straight games.

Langford did that work as a complement to Matt Forte in the Bears backfield, but Forte has moved on to the Jets as a free agent. That leaves an opening at the top of the running back depth chart in Chicago and it’s one that Langford says he wants to fill by applying some of what he learned during his year with the veteran back.

“Even last year, I think I prepared a lot, you know, just in case,” Langford said, via ESPN.com. “Playing running back, you never know what can happen. So I prepared a lot to know the whole offense and be the starter if I have to. But this year, it’s really just trying to become more of a leader at the position, being a running back in Chicago. Being more of a leader and really just not being that secondary guy. Acting like more of a veteran and know the whole offense. I learned a lot from Forte, being the guy he was, so you ain’t got to be a hoo-rah guy all the time. Being a young player, it’s just being in the right place at the right time and doing what you got to do. Really helping younger guys coming in, or even the guys following you, being a leader by example.”

The Bears have talked about using a committee of backs from a group including Langford, Ka’Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Jordan Howard. Langford says he’s fine with that, calling competition “always a good thing” as he prepares to do whatever he can to win it.

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Devin Hester is not a fan of NFL’s new touchback rule

Devin Hester AP

The NFL refers to kickoff returns as the most dangerous play in the game, and has changed rules to try to minimize them.

To Devin Hester, that’s almost like an unfair restraint of trade.

The Falcons return man said he’s personally never been hurt while returning a kickoff, and since he’s really good at it, he’s naturally skeptical about the change. The league has tweaked rules this year, allowing touchbacks to be placed at the 25 to try to encourage more teams to not return kickoffs.

It’s like taking away a job from people,” Hester said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “I got a concussion making a block at receiver. But I never got hurt taking hits back on kickoffs.”

Hester’s currently rehabbing a toe injury which apparently wasn’t suffered on a return. He has five career kickoff return touchdowns, and a 92-yarder in the Super Bowl.

So with a 24.9-yard career average on kickoff returns, you’ll pardon him if he’s not interested in a free crack at the 25-yard line.

“If we’re clicking, we can bring it back from pretty much anywhere; real talk,’’ Hester said. “If our return game is doing good, it’s pretty much the green light. The deepest I’ve fielded one [with Falcons] has been 7 or 8 yards in. The normal is about 4 or 5 yards deep.

“As far as how the other team kicks off, it’s all going to depend on one type of returner you have back there. If they believe in their coverage team they are going to try it.’’

Hester’s hoping they do. His job depends on it.

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Sheldon Richardson waiting to hear if he’ll be suspended

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 14:  Defensive end Sheldon Richardson #91 of the New York Jets on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 14, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Jets 31-24.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

There are plenty of big names missing from Jets OTAs this week, but defensive end Sheldon Richardson isn’t among them.

Richardson is taking part in the team’s practices and met with the media after Wednesday’s session, which meant he faced questions about whether he’d be absent from any games during the regular season. Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in January to resolve an arrest from last summer for driving 143 m.p.h. while evading police with a 12-year-old in the car. Police also reported smelling marijuana, although neither drug possession nor child endangerment charges went forward.

On Wednesday, Richardson said he’s spoken to the league “here and there” but doesn’t know whether he’ll be suspended for any portion of the 2016 season.

“Positive vibes, man,” Richardson said, via ESPN.com. “If I get a letter saying I’m suspended, I’m suspended. I don’t really hang my hat on that. That happened last year, last offseason. [It’s] a new year, you know? I’m past it. I’m ready to play football.”

Richardson dropped 11 pounds from last year’s playing weight while preparing himself to play football in a season that will be factored into any long-term contract talks that might get underway with the Jets. Staying on the field would be a plus for Richardson — who was suspended four games in 2015 for a substance abuse violation — on that front because his off-field indiscretions have been the only thing to give pause about a new deal to this point in his career.

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Wes Welker not sure his “heart and mind” want more football

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 22: Wes Welker #19 of the St. Louis Rams carries the ball past Tray Walker #25 of the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Wes Welker was out of football all of last offseason, but always insisted he wanted to continue playing despite the series of concussions he’d suffered over the course of his career.

Welker eventually signed with the Rams in November, although you’d be forgiven for having no memory of his eight games and 13 catches for a team playing out the string on a season and a city. Welker is a free agent once again and said during an appearance on NFL Network that his “heart and mind” are still going back and forth on whether he wants to pursue a 13th season.

“That’s kind of the million dollar question right now in trying to figure that out,” Welker said. “I think I’m weighing my options and really trying to figure out where to go with life next. But there are some days I wake up and I’m like ‘OK, I’m done.’ And other days I wake up and I’m like, ‘Oh, maybe one more year.’ But I’m trying not to rush into any decision but at the same time, know that and prepare myself for not playing.”

Given the lukewarm interest in Welker’s services last year, it’s hard to imagine teams are beating down his doors with offers to play and that could offer the final push that Welker needs to flip the switch from active NFL player to the next stage of life.

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